Thanksgiving Memories of Martins Ferry

1960s poem, Martins Ferry Poems

So much, maybe everything, is lost in translation–
those tiny steps we take between heartbeats
Like the steps I’ve taken backward and forward on holidays
in those worn out shoes I wear on special occasions only–
trying to remember myself, and Martins Ferry–
that place this life remembers as its beginning, and
that place I loath and love like some hopelessly confused clown
dancing in the headlights of strangers’ cars–
cars running over my dreams
which know no way to die on their own

We forget it’s all an illusion–
every last blink of experience
flowing into and out of us
like some forgotten river–
maybe the Ohio, and
then again maybe not

Martins Ferry clings to me–
some terribly worn, out of style suit of clothes–
in synch with my special shoes, but painfully dull and empty
like the now abandoned house on Indiana Street
where my winter dreams began in the warm family room
where a short-needled Christmas tree stood every year–
the same corner where I cried in quiet desperation
hoping a dream would some day carry me far away

Now I want to go back–
this time by choice to wear those shoes and that suit
Something tugs at my heart on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Making even the sadness and loneliness look good
Just one more time to sit on the family room floor
and play with my toys
while Mom and Dad argue in the kitchen about money, relatives
and so many other empty things filling life–
things that are also part of love

Till Next Christmas

After Christmas Poem

One day past Christmas
Stranded on a magical isthmus
Feeling very blessed
There find a long awaited rest

Our hearts filled to the brim
A long walk on a whim
Overflowing with pure joy
Peace yet lingers, never destroy

So many gifts still wrapped under the tree
Things making us happy, you and me
Best of all, family and close friends
Love shared always transcends

Till this time next year
Each moment savored, not one tear
We shall patiently wait
Christmas in our hearts, what better fate

Yet Another New Christmas

Uncategorized

Narcissism, so very hard to digest
Deep intrapersonal indigestion
For all seeking its source
That is the place
It all comes from
Yes where we all begin again

Every once in a while
We must go home
Could be Martins Ferry
Maybe East Cleveland
A place where all unraveling ends
And all beginnings start again

A new Christmas is here
A time for introspection
Exploring the inner depths
Infinite light and dark places
We’ve either been
Or dream about on such special nights

Two days before this Christmas
My heart is still stirring
So many vibrations filling the house
I must look in the mirror
And there find myself staring
In a dark suit of clothes, not truth I am wearing

Easier times behind us lie
I sit in bed and sometimes cry
Last log on the fire
Watch it burning
Life inside me
Forever churning

A new Christmas has finally come
A destination of hope
Ever deep repining
And so back in the magical mirror I glance
Hoping to see
God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

A Special Christmas in 1958

Childhood Reflections, Christmas Memories, Christmas Poem, Martins Ferry Poems

I was seven
Though big for my age
Still believed in Santa Claus
That wizardly wise, white-bearded jovial old man
Gifting the world each Christmas
With toys, candy-filled stockings, other things
Of which childhood dreams are made

We lived at 919 Indiana Street
In Martins Ferry, O-hi-o
A large two-story tan and gray house
With an old coal furnace
Warding off winter’s frigid bite
Belching smoke and soot
All about the snow-covered roof and yard

Christmas fell on a Thursday in 1958
So Santa made his long-awaited visit
On a Wednesday night
Prayer meeting night, as we knew it in my family
A special late night candlelight service was held
Honoring the Christ Child’s birth
That went on well past 11 PM

I was deathly afraid Santa would skip our house
On this particular Christmas Eve in 1958
For Dad’s blue ’52 Ford wouldn’t start
In the cold, snowy, now empty church parking lot
The old V-8 refused to turn over
That onerous clicking sound
Only a dead battery can make

My sister Diana howled in tears
The very thought we’d miss Christmas
Mom mad as a hornet
So many loose ends to tie before Christmas morn
Dad’s frustration showed in his face and hands
His dark hair blown in all directions
By the blustery winter wind

At precisely twelve midnight
Dad proclaimed we must walk home
Back then, no cell phones to call a friend
And so we did
We walked and walked
One dark street to another
All good children fast asleep in their beds

At first I thought I was hallucinating
The sound of sleigh bells
Bright lights coming directly our way
Mom exclaimed it was an apparition
A sign surely we’d die this unbearably cold Christmas Eve
Dad hushed us to be quiet
Look past our fear, see reality he said

No sooner had our outbursts stopped
When a horse-drawn sleigh pulled to the curb
A tiny little man, no more than five feet tall
Descended the sleigh, calling out to us “Merry Christmas”
I watched the two large horses’ frozen breath
Spout from their large flared nostrils
As Dad talked with the strange little man

Then with a single motion of his hand
The little man waved us all into the sleigh
Where a heavy burlap blanket awaited us
Which we promptly pulled over our heads
The little man, it turns out, a widower
No children to his name
Asked us to call him “just one of Santa’s friends”

I peeked from under the blanket
Catching an occasional word or two
That either Dad or the little man said
One thing I remember was their talk about real gifts
Those one man gives to another
No expectation of anything in return
All for the joy of just giving

Fifteen minutes later
The sleigh pulled up to our house
Our tree lights still shining in the front window
The neighbor’s cat perched on our front porch
Dad tried to give the man some money
He refused, saying give it to someone in need
Someone who needs the money

As Dad opened our front door
I watched the magical sleigh drive away
And as I fell fast sleep that Christmas Eve
The little man, his horses, and the sleigh bells
Danced through my head
Somehow I knew, deep down inside
I had already been given my best Christmas present